Nothing beats a portable fridge/freezer for keeping your family’s food and drinks cold and fresh when you’re out on a camping adventure. The ubiquitous Esky is okay if you’re away for just a weekend, it’s not too hot and you have access to a re-supply of ice, but for reliable cold-storage of your goods over more than a few days, a fridge/freezer is a far better option. The Oztrail 80L Dual Zone Fridge/Freezer is aimed at the family campers and 4WD tourers who spend more than a few days exploring.
The Oztrail 80L Dual Zone Fridge/Freezer is – as you’d expect for its capacity – no small unit, but Oztrail has done a great job of keeping the size manageable. First case in point is its weight of 30kg – impressive for the capacity and robust construction. The unit measures 880mm x 570mm x 455mm, with these dimensions still favourable for packing the unit in most 4WD wagons and utes. The fridge/freezer exterior cabinet and lids are metal, while the interior is aluminium. Reflecting its suitability for off-road tourers, the fridge/freezer can operate even when the unit is angled at up to 30 degrees (for a maximum of four hours). The air-flow vents are down low and must not be obstructed. The handles are robust (excellent for tying down in your vehicle) and the soft-closing lid is a nice touch. There is also a Transit Cover (sold separately) that offers protection for the fridge/freezer , space for cables, tie-down points, and it offers additional insulation, which ups efficiency.
The internals are top-notch, too, with the unit featuring a well-regarded and reliable LG compressor and electronics. The LCD control panel on the side is large and well-lit for night-time visibility but is hard to read in daylight. It features a power on/off button, battery monitor display, temp increase/decrease buttons, a temperature display, battery protection button, compressor speed button (you can run it in ECO mode or MAX). There’s also a compressor speed display. Temperatures for each cabinet can be set independently of each other with a temp range of -18 to +20 Degrees Celsius. You can shut down one cabinet if you don’t need the cooling space.
The fridge/freezer can be powered by a power pack, a dual-battery system in your vehicle, regular 240V, a portable generator (inverter-type only) and solar panels (Oztrail recommends a portable solar panel kit from 60-250W), with the solar panels having to be connected via the battery. The DC power cable also has an attachable Merit connection.
In the field
The Oztrail 80L Dual Zone Fridge/Freezer saw double-duty during the test period, being used for a few family camping trips, and a 4WD adventure. The first thing we noted – and appreciated – was the storage volume. This was especially handy for the family camping as it meant a few days’ food could be easily stowed, along with drinks. For this trip we kept both compartments running as a fridge, easy to achieve thanks to the straightforward operation of the digital control panel.
The low profile of this big bopper was also considered favourable and, considering its heft, it wasn’t actually that hard to move around the campsite with two people – those handles are very solid. During this family camp, we powered the Dual Zone via a Projecta Power Hub, and this worked very well, with the Dual Zone’s battery readout keeping us informed of its power draw (which is quite low for a large unit; we barely used 20 per cent of the powerpack’s charge over a weekend).
The Dual Zone compressor is quick to get the cabinet temperatures down as well. The fridge/freezer was positioned inside the front annex of the tent, so it was under cover and sheltered somewhat from the sun, but it was still a warm few days, but the unit was unaffected, maintaining a cold temp throughout.
During the 4WD trip, the Dual Zone was secured inside the rear cargo area of a Toyota Prado, atop a cargo drawer slide, and it just fit, with the length being the main concern (the low height is definitely a boon). It was also quite easy to ensure we kept the airflow vents clear, so the compressor stayed happy and operating at full capacity. Little things like the LED internal lighting and the soft-close hinges were appreciated; late at night, searching for that last beer/wine bottle, extra illumination was handy!
The final word on the Oztrail 80L Dual Zone Fridge/Freezer
We’ve had the Oztrail 80L Dual Zone Fridge/Freezer for only a month at the time of writing, but during that four weeks or so, it has been out on three camping trips and performed reliably each time. The size is both a positive (for large families with large-ish vehicles) and a negative (not so good for small sedans or wagons). Overall, we’d definitely lean toward positive due to the versatility of the two compartments, the impressive low power draw (for its capacity), reliable (and quiet) compressor, and the fact that you really can go away for a week with the whole clan aboard and know you don’t have to skimp on certain foods. Plus it represents great value for money – and is notably cheaper if you become an Anaconda Adventure Club Member (it’s free to join).
There’s no getting around the fact it is a big unit (there is a 45L Single Zone unit, with the same compressor and operational features, plus a huge 125L Dual Zone model – both available at Anaconda stores), and so is suited to those who do have the space to transport it. It must be said, though, that its considerable size is cleverly muted in its dimensions and its weight. If you can make the space for it, the Oztrail 80L Dual Zone Fridge/Freezer is a worthy contender for anyone looking for a portable food storage solution for their camping adventures. If not, deinitely check out the 45L Single Zone.
RRP: $1199 ($699 for Anaconda Club Members. Membership is free.) Available at Anaconda stores.